DC PUBWATCH June 2019 Edition

DC PUBWATCH June 2019 Edition

This was a big month for DC Comics news, and more so for three of the company’s imprints. It was announced last week that the rumors are indeed true, and at the end of the year, DC will be retiring the Vertigo label. This shutters that mature reader imprint after twenty-six years, and only a

This was a big month for DC Comics news, and more so for three of the company’s imprints. It was announced last week that the rumors are indeed true, and at the end of the year, DC will be retiring the Vertigo label. This shutters that mature reader imprint after twenty-six years, and only a year after they made a big deal about the brand-new relaunch. Some of that relaunch was hamstrung by the abuse allegations that came to light on Eric M. Esquivel, and delays hurt some of the other books in the relaunch.

Also announced last week was the shuttering of DC Ink (their young adult imprint) and DC Zoom (their middle grade imprint). With the three imprints shutting down, the types of titles found in them are not going away, but transitioning to new labels. DC Zoom, which was targeted at ages 8-12, will be put under the DC Kids imprint. DC Ink, which was targeted at 13- to16-year-olds, will be published under the main DC Comics banner. Mature reader titles that may have found a home in Vertigo will now be published under the DC Black Label imprint.

While I’m sad to see Vertigo go, it truly hasn’t been the same label since Shelly Bond and Karen Berger left the company. They each have their own imprints at other companies now, and smaller publishers are now pushing the boundaries that Vertigo once prided itself on pushing. And while the imprint shufflie is confusing, I do think all three of these decisions are for the best. Ink and Zoom were notably confusing, because it was hard to remember which was which. Having them so clearly delineated now makes it easier for parents and librarians to make sure they’re buying the right product.

And for those worried about DC’s commitment to the younger audience, just a day after the announcement of the imprint changes, DC made several upcoming product announcements at ALA. For the DC Kids line, a total of twenty-three upcoming books have now been announced, and only four of those do I remember having seen announcements for previously. This is also not counting the releases coming later this summer and fall, which brings the total up to twenty-nine announced books and two already published.

For the young adult books that formerly would have been in the Ink imprint, there were eighteen books talked about at ALA. Again, there were only four I recognized from previous announcements, and it did not include the books coming out later this year. All in all, with the three books coming later this summer and fall and the two already released, the young adult line has twenty-three books slated. This brings the total for both lines up to fifty-four books, and it doesn’t seem like DC is slowing down. In fact, it seems that both lines were popular enough to explode, and that delights me.

As we were going to press this month, DC announced a new Pop-UP Imprint from horror writer (and son of even more prolific horror writer, Stephen King), Joe Hill. This did abate fears about the future of the mature readers comics from the publisher, and it seems that the Hill House books will be published both under that label and as DC Black Label books. It also reinforced that the Pop-Up Imprints like Young Animal and Wonder Comics aren’t going anywhere, and in fact we may see more of them in the future. The Hill House books are bringing in fantastic horror comics talent like Mike Carey (Hellblazer and Lucifer) and Kelley Jones (The Sandman, Batman) along with newcomers to the medium like Carmen Maria Machado.

A+

Wonder Twins #5

Stephen Byrne (art and cover), Mark Russell (writer), Dave Sharpe (letters)

This book has been an unexpected joy every month. It’s leaning hard into vicious satire, and doing so in a profound way. Last issue tackled toxic masculinity, while this one focuses more on institutional racism. Cell Phone Sylvia is a look at the privileged white woman who feels that her rights are being violated by black people existing, like the real life Barbecue Becky. I think my favorite thing in this series is Lex News, the obvious DC Universe stand-in for Fox News. We’ve seen ads in previous issues, but this time we actually got a talking head pundit show, and it was brilliant.

Cover for Wonder Twins #5 - Zan and Jayna fighting the League of Annoyance

A

Action Comics #1012

Brad Anderson (colors), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Jamal Campbell (cover), Szymon Kudranski (art), Josh Reed (letters)

While I love the way Bendis writes Lois and Clark, the bulk of this issue was not about either one of them. Instead we focused on Thorn and on Robinson Goode. It was nice to break away and see this side of the story for a bit, and unlike James Robinson’s Wonder Woman run, this break felt earned. It’s also nice to see the other heroes Metropolis has once in a while, and then tying it all back to Event Leviathan at the end worked perfectly. Kudranski isn’t a name familiar to me, but his art worked really well for the story of this issue, and I look forward to seeing more from him in the future.

Cover for Action Comics #1012 - Superman looking at the reader with heat vision eyes

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #2

Jeremy Colwell (colors and cover), Kevin Eastman (art), Tom Napolitano (letters), James Tynion IV (writer), Freddie E. Williams II (art and cover)

I think my favorite thing from this book is the fact that Eastman is contributing on the art. The mixing of Eastman’s original Ninja Turtles style with Williams’s more modern take works seamlessly, and it doesn’t feel like Eastman has lost a step at all. I’m also loving just how absolutely they have decided to double down on the crossover, going full Amalgam with Turtle Robins and ninja Batman. I love crossovers that allow themselves to have fun with the concept, and with Anti-Monitor Krang, this is doing just that.

Cover of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #2 - Profile of Batman behind shadowed heads of the Ninja Turtles

DCeased #2

Rain Beredo (colors), Stefano Gaudiano (inks), Trevor Hairsine (pencils), Tomeu Morey (cover), Tom Taylor (writer), Saida Temofonte (letters), Leinil Yu (cover)

While this is undoubtedly a horror story at its core, Taylor is doing a good job of telling the human side of it, setting the stakes for when he kills our favorites (and Hal). Over the course of Injustice Taylor demonstrated a solid understanding of the characters of the DC Universe, and that continues to be evident here. Dinah Lance as the next Green Lantern of Earth is an inspired choice, and I can’t wait to see what she does with the ring. Alfred having to kill Bruce was heartbreaking, and made even more so by Damian listening in.

Cover for DCeased #2 - Zombie Batgirl, Nightwing and Robin attacking Batman

Event Leviathan #1

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alex Maleev (art and cover), Josh Reed (letters)

Bendis and Maleev have been a strong team for years, specifically on noir-esque stories like Leviathan, and that doesn’t change here. Maleev’s Batman is astounding, and the feel his art provides to the whole story really helps set the tone. The interactions between Lois Lane, investigative journalist, and Batman, man of mystery, are perfect, as she tries to dig up dirt on the Dark Knight. I’m still not confident enough to posit a guess on who Leviathan might be, but I do have my theories. I won’t be made a fool, so you get none of them! HAHAHA!

Cover for Event Leviathan #1 - Batman, Question and Green Arrow running from an explosion as Leviathan looms in the background

Female Furies #5

Cecil Castellucci (writer), Sal Cipriano (letters), Hi-Fi (colors), Adriana Melo (art), Julian Totino Tedesco (cover)

Much like Wonder Twins, this series has been a satirical powerhouse, for all the right reasons. Many of the moments tend to ring true, even if they are exaggerated. Men playing the victim when they are held accountable for their actions is one of the themes of this issue, as we see Willik finally pay for assaulting Aurelie. The other theme touched upon is nepotism and its use to enforce the glass ceiling, as we see Granny Goodness passed over for a promotion in favor of Glorious Godfrey’s nephew. It continues the exclusionary practices of an “Old Boys Club,” and sets the stage for our final issue.

Cover for Female Furies #5 - Barda using her Mega Rod to ward off the Furies

Justice League #25

Jorge Jimenez (plot, art, cover), Tom Napolitano (letters), Alejandro Sanchez (colors and cover), Scott Snyder (plot and script)

Jorge Jimenez outdoes himself in this issue. In particular, the scenes with young Clark and Pa Kent are absolutely some of the best pages I’ve seen in comics. Snyder and Jimenez tell a story of doing your very best in the face of adversity, even knowing that it may not always be enough. Superman doesn’t give up, because that’s how his father raised him, and that’s how he’s raising Jon. It was inspiring and beautiful, and I’m so happy Justice League has had a return to form as one of the best books in the DC lineup over the last year.

Cover for Justice League #25 - The Justice League fighting their future selves

Supergirl #31

Marc Andreyko (story), Ever Ferreira (inks), Kevin Maguire (pencils and cover), Tom Napolitano (letters), Eduardo Pansica (pencils), FCO Plascencia (colors), Chris Sotomayer (cover)

Cover for Supergirl #31 - Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, and Krypto in space with the ghosts of Krypton’s enemies behind them

Superman #12

Oclair Albert (inks), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Joe Prado (inks and cover), Josh Reed (letters), Ivan Reis (pencils and cover), Alex Sinclair (colors and cover)

I’m reviewing these two issues together because they both tell the same story, with overlapping scenes. The only difference is their point-of-view characters, which are obviously the title characters. Supergirl would have cracked my top ten no matter what, just on the power of Jon and Krypto’s reunion as drawn by Kevin Maguire. Maguire’s Krypto continues to be a joy, and that reunion is probably my favorite page of the month. We also see it in Superman, but Reis’s Krypto isn’t quite as good as Maguire’s. It looks like the individual stories will wrap in next month’s issues, and I can’t wait to see how it is finally all resolved.

Cover for Superman #12 - Superman and Superboy fighting Rogol Zaar

Young Justice #6

Wes Abbott (letters), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Gabe Eltaeb (colors), Alejandro Sanchez (cover), John Timms (art and cover)

Here’s the issue where we finally get some answers. It’s been a slow build, and while I can see that being frustrating for some readers who are just jumping into this title, its been highly rewarding for me as I’ve been following Tim Drake through all of Rebirth. Along with Tim explaining to the others that his memories of them have been erased, we also find out exactly what the deal is with Conner’s wife and kid. Which is just Conner being the noble young lad and protecting the helpless as his family are wont to do. The Gemworld arc is ended, but Young Justice’s adventures have just begun.

Cover for Young Justice #6 - Team shot of Young Justice

B

Adventures of the Super Sons #11
American Carnage #8
Aquaman #49
Books of Magic #9
Deathstroke #44
Detective Comics #1005-1006
Dial H For Hero #4
Goddess Mode #6
Hawkman #13
High Level #5
Justice League #26
Justice League Dark #12
Martian Manhunter #6
Pearl #10
Shazam! #6
Teen Titans #31
The Dreaming #10
The Flash #72-73
The Green Lantern #8
The Terrifics #17
Wonder Woman #72-73

C

Batman #72-73
Batman Beyond #33
Catwoman #12
Harley Quinn #62
House of Whispers #10
Justice League Odyssey #10
Lucifer #9
Nightwing #61
The Batman Who Laughs #6

D

Batman & The Outsiders #2

Clayton Cowles (letters), Veronica Gandini (colors), Bryan Hill (writer), Tyler Kirkham (cover), Arif Prianto (cover), Dexter Soy (art)

Honestly, I’m somewhat disappointed with this series. I loved the Detective Comics run that acted as a backdoor pilot for the series, but the actual book is leaving me wanting. Part of that could be the severe delays that it suffered after being announced, but mostly the story just isn’t doing much for me. It seems to be a recycled X-Force story, right down to the Cable knock-off, and that’s not really what I want from any of these characters. I do like Ra’s Al Ghul, so maybe it will pick up as the arc moves on, but right now I feel let down.

Cover for Batman & The Outsiders #2 - The Outsiders fighting a mercenary with a big gun

Batman Damned #3

Brian Azzarello (writer), Lee Bermejo (art and cover), Jared K. Fletcher (letterer)

Once again, I think my biggest problem with this book hinges on the lettering. In places it’s difficult to read, and that takes away from both the story and the art. I’m also unsure if the letterer made the decision for Zatanna’s speech or if that was Azzarello, but it broke her standard conventions, which took me some time to piece together. While Zatanna speaks backwards, her words aren’t usually in reverse order, but they were in this book. All in all, the book that leads off the Black Label imprint is wholly disappointing.

Cover for Batman Damned #3 - Terrifying skull-like Joker face

Red Hood: Outlaw #35

Cully Hamner (cover), Scott Lobdell (writer), Rex Lokus (colors), ALW’s Troy Peteri (letters), Pete Woods (art)

Yet another issue in which Scott Lobdell is self-referential to the point of near parody. This time it’s digging up yet another of his New 52 creations in Essence, who apparently was introduced in the first issue of Red Hood & The Outlaws back in 2011. You know, the issue that I, a Titans die-hard that keeps both Starfire and Arsenal in her perennial top ten favorite character list, gave up on and threw away before finishing it. I’ve said it’d be fine by me if they just kept Lobdell on Red Hood, but honestly, even that is too much Lobdell for me every month.

Cover for Red Hood: Outlaw #35 - Red Hood fighting Essence

The Silencer #18

Dan Abnett (writer), Sandu Florea (inks), Sandra Hope (cover), V. Ken Marion (pencils), Tom Napolitano (letters), Arif Prianto (cover), Mike Spicer (colors)

And thus, the “New Age of Heroes” is pretty much over. The Terrifics is still standing, and it was always the best of the bunch. This issue wasn’t terrible, but what lands it here in the bottom is its mess of continuity snarls. It takes place both before the death of Deathstroke (which happened at the end of Deathstroke #43) and after the beginning of Event Leviathan, and honestly it’s just confusing. Hopefully Bendis can clean up some of this within Event Leviathan, as he cleans up the whole covert ops situation.

Cover for The Silencer #18 - The Silencer in the Rain

F

Superman: Year One #1

Danny Miki (inks and cover), Frank Miller (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils and cover), Alex Sinclair (colors and cover), John Workman (letters)

Alright, so first the good of this book. It does a good job of portraying Ma and Pa Kent, Lana, and Clark as people. All of them are characterized pretty much exactly like I’d like to see them in an origin story. They also do a good job of portraying Clark’s friend group, and the bullies.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what didn’t work. I didn’t like the art, which is no surprise because I’m not a big fan of modern John Romita Jr. stuff. His characters are often blocky with heads that seem too big, and everyone seems to wear too much eyeliner. I didn’t like the abundance of narration. This comic was excessively wordy and that made it a slog to get through. I do not like the idea of Clark Kent joining the military, even if it fits with Frank Miller’s ideas of who he is. I was worried about Frank Miller telling a Superman story since his take on Superman is awful to begin with, and for most of the issue I was impressed that it wasn’t going the way I feared. That changed with Clark joining the Navy.

But all of that pales in comparison to the thing that really torpedoes this comic. It has become a running joke that Frank Miller only knows how to write three types of women: prostitutes, strippers and victims. Well, this book doesn’t have any prostitutes (yet—we’re only in issue one) or strippers (again, only in issue one), but it does have Lana Lang getting victimized by a group of bullies, and threatened with rape, so I guess the stereotype is not off. The editors who allowed that scene in a Superman book need to reevaluate their life choices.

Cover for Superman: Year One #1 - A young Superman standing on his rocket

The Solicitation Situation

So that was a joy to end the month on, huh? Let’s see what we have to look forward to (and one that I’m really not) in from the September solicits.

HARLEEN #1
written by STJEPAN ŠEJIC
art and cover by STJEPAN ŠEJIC
variant cover by STJEPAN ŠEJIC
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions. On that road I saw a pale man, and he smiled at me…”
Dr. Harleen Quinzel has discovered a revolutionary cure for the madness of Gotham City—she just needs to prove it actually works. But with the criminal justice and mental health establishments united against her, the brilliant young psychologist must take drastic measures to save Gotham from itself. Witness Harleen’s first steps on a doomed quest that will give birth to the legendary super-villain Harley Quinn in this stunning reimagining of Harley and The Joker’s twisted and tragic love affair by visionary storyteller Stjepan Šejic (AQUAMAN: UNDERWORLD, SUICIDE SQUAD, Sunstone).
ON SALE 09.25.18
$7.99 US | 1 of 3 | 64 PAGES | BIMONTHLY
FC | APPROX. 8.5” x 10.875”
MATURE READERS

Harley Quinn holding her face inquisitively

Oh man, I’m excited for this book. Stjepan loves Harley, and I have faith that this will be a much better Black Label story about her than the one by Sean G. Murphy.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: MILLENNIUM #1
written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
art by JIM LEE, DUSTIN NGUYEN, ANDREA SORRENTINO, ANDRE ARAUJO and others
cover by RYAN SOOK
variant cover by TBA
Brought to you by some of comics’ greatest talents, this epic story spans the course of 1,000 years and, for the very first time, connects all of DC’s future timelines! Starring the unlikeliest of DC heroes as she learns to cope with newfound immortality and roams through the disparate societies of Batman Beyond, Kamandi and Tommy Tomorrow, wrestling with her own inner demons and desperately trying to find her purpose in an ever-changing world. Do not miss this truly unique take on tomorrow’s DC Universe, all leading up to a special launch on the millennium!
ON SALE 09.04.19
$4.99 US | 1 OF 2 | 40 PAGES
FC | RATED T

Mystery Woman looking at a shooting star going past a painted yellow L

FINALLY THE LEGION ARE COMING BACK. I love the new costumes, and I’m so happy for my future space teens to be back. Here’s hoping Kara and Jon both get some time with them.

FLASH FORWARD #1
written by SCOTT LOBDELL
art by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
cover by EVAN “DOC” SHANER
variant cover by INHYUK LEE
blank variant cover
His name is Wally West—and he was the Fastest Man Alive. That is, until the Multiverse was rewritten without him or his family in it. Wally returned and tried to make it work, but the damage was done. Spinning out of the events of HEROES IN CRISIS, follow the man who called himself Flash on an adventure to find redemption in a cosmos that has fought so hard to destroy him.
ON SALE 09.18.19
$3.99 US | 1 OF 6 | 32 PAGES
FC | RATED T+

Wally West Flash in front of a space scape

SIGH. Here’s the book I’m probably least excited for in the history of comics. After Tom King destroyed Wally’s character, Wally is being handed to one of my least favorite writers, and one of my least favorite artists. At least the covers will be pretty.

That’s a wrap for this month—see you next month as I recap everything we learn from San Diego Comic Con and review July’s books, including Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen!

Cori McCreery
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